It’s usually hard to sum up one of these three-plus-hour Board of Finance meetings, but the exiting acting chair, Michael O. Peterson, did it for me: “At some point,” he said, “we have to bite the bullet and move on.”
One bites a bullet when one is in extreme pain. No anesthetic is available, and the job’s just gotta be done. Your life depends on it.
But you can’t move on until the operation is over.
There was a great deal of anesthetic available at last night’s Board of Finance meeting. In fact, it was the deadening of the pain that was so painful.
There were two camps on the Board of Finance with respect to further forensic examination.
1. The people who talked about a cost-benefit analysis, focusing on the recovery we might get from the insurance company (ignoring other avenues, such as restitution from a criminal court, or a civil suit). This camp consisted of the five Republicans and the leader of the forensic examination, Joseph Centofanti.
2. The people who talked about the need to regain the people’s trust and confidence, and to get to the bottom of what happened. This camp consisted of the two Democrats and most of the people who spoke during public comments.
The town is certainly in pain. But it’s not the pain of an operation. So far, all there’s been is anesthesia. The “forensic-operations audit” hasn’t even broken the skin.
The Republicans seem to want the forensic examiner to decide where to go next, and even then only after he finishes the operations audit, that is, his recommendation of new accounting procedures and controls. These are important, but many of them have already been instituted due to the scandal. And the ones that existed before the scandal were often ignored, as the new ones might be, depending on who is in charge.
Nothing was decided at the meeting. We go into the election with no new information. All we know is that if there was anything to hide, the Board of Finance Republicans have successfully allowed it to stay hidden. And hiding doesn’t do anything for public trust and confidence.
If we move on, without taking out the shrapnel, this town will never get better. Our life depends on knowing what happened and who was responsible.